Some of my fondest memories from my travels revolve around dining tables overflowing with fresh and bountiful seafood, from freshly shucked oysters to live-caught fish. But nothing compares to a perfectly seasoned and tender bite of octopus. While most people are intimidated by preparing this eight-tentacled mollusk, my black-eyed pea and charred octopus salad is simple to prepare and sure to impress guests at your next gathering. Originating from North Africa, black-eyed peas are an Old World staple that made their way into Europe by way of Spanish explorers and enslaved Africans.Print
- 1 pound octopus, cleaned
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- Salt for boiling and to taste
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- Juice of 2 limes
- 2 1/2 cups cooked black-eyed peas (canned or homemade), drained (If canned, allow to drain for at least 30 minutes)
- 2 tablespoons green onions, sliced
- 3 tablespoons parsley leaves,
- coarsely chopped
- 3 tablespoons cilantro leaves,
- coarsely chopped
- Place the octopus in a large pot and cover with water, enough to keep the octopus submerged but not swim¬ming in water. Add the bay leaves, thyme, and salt, then bring the water to a boil. Continue to boil for 30 minutes or until the octopus is tender.
- Once the octopus is tender, remove from the water and rinse under cold water.
- Place the octopus in a medium-size bowl and add ¼ cup of the oil, garlic, and half of the lime juice. Season with salt and pepper and let marinate for 45 minutes.
- Heat a medium-size cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Begin charring the octopus, turning every 3 to 5 minutes. Once the octopus is nicely charred, remove it from the pan and slice it into medium-size pieces.
- In a separate bowl, toss together the peas, green onion, parsley, cilantro, octopus, the remaining ¼ cup oil, and the remaining lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve immediately.
Reprinted with permission from BLACK FOOD: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora edited by Bryant Terry, copyright © 2021. Published by 4 Color Books, an imprint of Ten Speed Press and Penguin Random House.
Photographs copyright © 2021 Oriana Koren.